Now having a list like this is going to be a task. Thrillist literally scoured the entire country in order to find the perfect restaurant that defines each state. For anything from BBQ to freshly caught fish, you’re not going to want to miss the roundup we’ve found for you.
And just to make sure it’s not a fad on the run, we made sure that all these food hubs have been in business for at least 30 years. So start planning your road trip now because you’ll be left drooling by the end of this.
Alabama: Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que
Established in 1925, the town of Decatur has always been a huge fan of this joint. From fall-off-the-bone ribs, to succulent sauces, you’ll fall in love the moment you get hit with their delightful smells.
Alaska: Club Paris
Club Paris in Anchorage has been around since 1957 and is Alaska’s oldest steakhouse.
Apparently it’s a huge spot for birthday celebrations, amazing steaks, and Alaskan king crab legs.
Arizona: El Charro Cafe
This is, of course, referring to the original El Charro Cafe in downtown Tucson, although there are now many locations. El Charro has been a staple in Arizona since 1922.
Arkansas: McClard’s BBQ
This one has been around since 1928 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and it’s seen five generations of the McClard family working in the kitchen.
California: The Old Clam House
San Francisco’s Old Clam House definitely meets the 30-year rule for this list—it’s been open since 1861.
Colorado: Buckhorn Exchange
The Buckhorn Exchange has been around since 1893 in Denver. They’re famous for giant steaks and serving up almost any animal on Earth (think buffalo, elk, salmon, quail, alligator and Rocky Mountain Oysters).
Connecticut: Louis’ Lunch
The Library of Congress says that Louis’ Lunch in New Haven in 1895 was the first restaurant in the U.S. to sell a hamburger. So, yes, we’d say they’re pretty iconic.
Delaware: Deer Park Tavern
The Deer Park Tavern has been around since 1851 in Newark. Edgar Allen Poe used to hang out there, but it’s still pretty popular among locals and college students.
Washington, D.C.: Occidental Grill & Seafood
This isn’t the original location. That one opened in 1906, closed in the ’70s, and then reopened nearby in the ’80s. It still claims many presidents and Amelia Earhart as customers.
Florida: Joe’s Stone Crab
This popular Miami staple opened in 1913 and has served celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali, and Jennifer Lopez. We also hear they have some pretty amazing stone crabs.
Georgia: H&H Soul Food
H&H Soul Food opened in Macon, Georgia, in 1959 and has been popular among Southern musicians, locals, and everyone else passing through ever since. Also, Oprah has been there. It closed briefly in 2013, but it’s open again with its iconic owner, Mama Louis, helping out.
Hawaii: Hy’s Steak House
This steakhouse, which is known for cooking its meats over native Kiawe wood, has been a staple in Honolulu since 1976.
Idaho: Hudson’s Hamburgers
A classic hamburger is iconic by itself, and Hudson’s in Coeur d’Alene has been serving them since 1907 (without fries, so don’t even think about asking for them).
Illinois: Gene & Jude’s
The Chicago area is famous for hotdogs, and Gene & Jude’s in River Grove has been among the best since 1950. Just remember, don’t put ketchup on it.
Indiana: St. Elmo Steak House
Often considered one of the best steakhouses in America, St. Elmo has been in Indianapolis for more than 100 years. It opened in 1902 and boasts an upscale, upstairs lounge. for the true steak and Parks and Recreation fans, Ron Swanson has eaten there!
Iowa: Northwestern Steakhouse
This restaurant in Mason City has been around since 1920 and is the place to go for Greek-style steaks. Which means they’re broiled in olive oil and covered in a blend of Greek seasoning, in case you didn’t know.
Kansas: The Cozy Inn
This staple in Salina has been serving up sliders since 1922. They don’t complicate things: It’s just meat with cooked onions on a steamed bun, but they’re still as popular as ever.
Kentucky: Jack Fry’s
Jack Fry’s opened in Louisville in 1933. Today, it’s still a popular and beloved spot with an old-school feel, decorated with racing programs and Derby photos.
Louisiana: Commander’s Palace
There’s a lot of competition just in New Orleans, not to mention the rest of the state, but Commander’s Palace came out on top. It’s been an icon since 1880 in the city’s Garden District.
Maine: The Lobster Shack Restaurant at Two Lights
Although it’s a little touristy, The Lobster Shack Restaurant at Two Lights on Cape Elizabeth is known for its fresh-off-the-boat lobster rolls. And they’ve been serving them up since 1969.
Maryland: Ocean Pride
Established in 1971, this nautical-themed restaurant in Lutherville is the place to go for steamed crabs. They also serve fried clams and crab cakes, if their most famous dish isn’t your thing.
Massachusetts: Union Oyster House
Union Oyster House has been in Boston since 1826, so they clearly know what they’re doing. The menu includes favorites like Virginia, Narragansett, or Cape oysters as well as clams from Ipswich.
Michigan: Bavarian Inn
This German-inspired restaurant has been operating in Frankenmuth since 1888. The experience comes complete with all-you-can-eat fried chicken, mashed potatoes, polka bands, and giant beers.
Minnesota: Matt’s Bar
Really more restaurant than anything else, Matt’s Bar opened in Minneapolis in 1954. Matt’s is credited with inventing the iconic “Jucy Lucy.” (Yes, they leave out the “i”.)
Mississippi: Mayflower Cafe
This Jackson icon opened in 1935 and claims to have seafood unlike anywhere else.
Missouri: Arthur Bryant’s
It’s not the first place to serve Kansas City BBQ, but the founder of Arthur Bryant’s did learn from the inventor of the style. This Kansas City classic has been in operation since 1940, so they’ve had plenty of practice.
Montana: Grand Union Hotel
The Grand Union Hotel in Fort Benton opened in 1882, which makes it older than the actual state of Montana. And for the history buffs, it’s on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Nebraska: The Drover Restaurant & Lounge
Combine whiskey and steaks, and you have the recipe for what makes The Drover amazing. The place has been open in Omaha since 1978.
Nevada: The Peppermill Restaurant and Fireside Lounge
With a plethora of neon lights, indoor fire pits, and crazy energy, the Peppermill, established in 1972, is everything you want Las Vegas to be.
New Hampshire: Hancock Inn
The Hancock Inn opened in Hancock (of course), New Hampshire, in 1789. Yes, it’s been in business for 226 years.
It boasts a menu that includes a huge variety of items, as well as the title of being the state’s oldest restaurant.
New Jersey: Tops Diner
You can get typical diner food at Tops in East Newark, but they also have a full bar and fresh-baked cheesecake, so you should probably go with that.
New Mexico: El Pinto
Often considered one of the best Mexican restaurants in the U.S., El Pinto has been serving up red chile ribs and margaritas in Albuquerque since 1962. Also, it’s one of the biggest restaurants you will ever visit.
New York: Katz’s Delicatessen
Locals and tourists alike frequent this deli, which has been open in New York City since 1888. Their specialty: giant meat sandwiches.
North Carolina: Skylight Inn
The Skylight Inn has been making the state’s signature style of BBQ in Ayden since 1947. It has even dubbed itself “The Capital of Barbecue.”
North Dakota: Red Pepper
This “classic hole in the wall” has been operating out of Grand Forks, North Dakota, since 1961. Their signature dish is The Grinder, which has white sauce, lettuce, hot sauce, Swiss cheese, and taco meat, along with your choice of ham, salami, or turkey.
Ohio: The Golden Lamb
The Golden Lamb, which opened in 1803 in Lebanon, is Ohio’s oldest continually operating business. Their customers include 12 presidents, Mark Twain, and Charles Dickens.
Oklahoma: Cattlemen’s Steakhouse
Oklahoma City’s Cattlemen’s Steakhouse has been around since 1910. Although it’s no longer a popular bootlegging or gambling operation, it still serves some of the best steaks around. And they’re even open for breakfast.
Known for its turkey dinners and Spanish coffee shows, Huber’s has been a Portland icon since 1879. It also takes the title of being the city’s oldest restaurant.
DeLuca’s in Pittsburgh opened in 1951, and it’s been popular ever since. They boast a huge menu, which includes items like the MOAB (mother of all burritos), omelets, pancakes, and crepes.
Rhode Island: Havens Brothers Diner
It’s also big in New Jersey, but Havens Brothers Diner was originally opened in Providence in 1888. The popular food truck parks outside City Hall and serves items like burgers, shakes, and hot dogs.
South Carolina: Scott’s Bar-B-Que
Scott’s in Hemingway opened in 1972 and is now often considered one of the best BBQ restaurants in the country. It’s definitely not fancy, but the food more than makes up for it.
South Dakota: Wall Drug
This cafe (along with the giant T-rex and ice water) is promoted along the highway for hundreds of miles before you reach Wall, and it’s definitely worth the visit. The food isn’t spectacular, but you know you’re just going for the tourist-trap awesomeness that is Wall Drug.
Tennessee: Pancake Pantry
Nashville’s Pancake Pantry has been flipping its signature sweet potato pancakes with homemade cinnamon cream syrup since 1961. They also offer 22 other varieties, if sweet potato isn’t your thing.
Texas: Salt Lick
The Salt Lick, which opened in 1967 in Driftwood, is about as Texas as it gets. There are a ton of BBQ spots in the state, but this is among the best.
Utah: Ruth’s Diner
In 1930, Ruth’s Diner opened up in Salt Lake City, and it’s been serving up giant biscuits ever since. The restaurant moved into an old trolley car in the late ’40s, but it offers a huge patio too, in case you can’t snag a spot inside.
Vermont: The Common Man
You can find The Common Man and all of its sustainable and locally produced goodness in a mid-19th century barn in Warren, Vermont. While the farm-to-table movement has been popular in the last few years, the Common Man’s owners have been doing it that way since the ’60s.
Virginia: Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que
This small, highway-side restaurant opened in Williamsburg in 1971, and its been a BBQ staple in the area ever since. Last year they served more than 450,000 pounds of Boston butt over hickory and oak.
Canlis opened in 1950, and it currently is said to have the best steak in Seattle. The restaurant offers a fantastic view, just make sure to have a reservation.
West Virginia: Frostop Drive-In
This drive-in in Huntington has been open since 1959, and it still operates pretty much the same way. Just drive over and a carhop will bring some homemade root beer and classic American fare right to your door.
Wisconsin: Franks Diner
Franks has been serving up “garbage plates” in Kenosha since 1926. So what’s a garbage plate? It’s filled with hash browns, peppers, onions, meat, cheese, and eggs.
Wyoming: The Virginian
And last but not least, we have The Virginian, which opened in Buffalo in 1880. The restaurant boasts Teddy Roosevelt among its fans and is said to have some of the best steaks around.
So that’s it. Do you agree with Thrillist’s choices?